Saturday, February 13, 2010


I know, psychologically, how this dream was formed. I did my taxes last night, for the first time as a home buyer, which meant I found myself poring over all the details of when I bought the house, and reliving in my mind the anxiety of those months when it was never certain whether financing would actually come through.

So in the dream, I attempted to buy a house. It was located in a small Iowa town--Casey, apparently, based on the layout--which improbably contained an Indian restaurant, a Milio's sandwich shop and a sprawling indie bookstore with a large film section, but was otherwise a typical Midwestern burg, well-stocked with overall-wearing farmers.

One of which was my real-estate agent, portrayed by a straw-hatted Slim Pickens, who explained to me that, yes, I would almost certainly acquire the property, but there was a waiting period before I could take possession. In the meantime, he showed me the temporary housing he'd located for me: A shack. More specifically, the crawlspace under a shack, which was itself located inside a squirrel-infested corn crib. "There's no electricity, but yuh can see okay durin' the day. Yuh ain't claustrophobic, are yuh?"

The next day, I returned to the shack, accompanied by Mom, who was helping me move. As soon as we got to the shack, we noticed it, the corn crib and indeed the entire town plastered with Old Timey Wanted posters. "Hobos and Vagrants will be SHOT ON SIGHT," the posters claimed, and at the bottom was a crude line drawing of me.

Mom noticed my real estate agent had left me with a week's worth of entertainment during my stay--a box full of Max Brand novels!--then made ready to leave. "But Mom," I said, "don't you feel weird leaving me here? I may be killed."

"Nature takes its course," she shrugged, and walked slowly away. I watched her until she simply vanished, and I realized I was no longer in a corn crib in an unfamiliar town. I stood in the shallow ditch beside the rutted lane of the farm where I was raised. A familiar engine sounded in the distance: The school bus. My dog Spinner ran to greet it. I heard it slowing down.

I knew I was about to see myself, clad in a sweatshirt and striped pants, happy and romping with Spinner. I knew this would overwhelm me, either with joy or despair. Either extreme seemed too much to bear.

So I opened my eyes, and heard Delmar's paws clunking in the other room, and I knew I was awake. I stayed in bed several minutes more, listening to cars on the snow-coated streets, their tires hissing, hissing.